As a website copywriter, I get asked a lot about search engine optimization (SEO). Anyone who is creating a website or modifying an existing website, should become familiar with SEO techniques. I thought I’d share with you the 10 most frequently asked questions and my answers on this important topic.
SEO is the process of writing and designing your website so that it ranks well on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for your main keywords. When someone types a word or phrase into search engines looking for your product, you want to appear on the first or second page of the search results.
Most searchers don’t go beyond the second page, so if your site is not search engine optimized, it’s as good as invisible to many of your potential customers.
You should use language on the site that is associated with your business. Let’s say you’re a dentist. Most likely, you’ll show up prominently in search results if people search for the exact name of your dental practice.
But the trick is to show up when people search for complicated terms related to your business, like “Orlando pediatric dentistry.” That’s because you want to attract people who might not know about your business but are looking for the product or service that you provide.
I know some people believe that, but “manipulation” makes it sound underhanded or deceitful. Really, SEO is about ensuring that your site offers high-quality content that is truly relevant and useful. Good content merits visibility on the search engines because it is the best answer to a searcher’s query.
SEO is a combination of elements — your site’s layout, programming, inbound links, keyword use, title and meta descriptions and content.
Provided that your website’s layout and programming have been done properly, the most important element of making your website rank on the search engines is content. In other words, you need the right words, and plenty of them.
Search engines don’t see photos or graphics. They see words. If someone has, for example, searched for “Orlando florists,” the websites that will come up on page 1 are those that have used the keywords “Orlando florists” and offer good, relevant content.
The text on a website is the main draw for both search engine spiders and search engine users. If your web site content is poorly written, never updated, or not relevant to the subjects you want to be found for, then your site is neither search engine-friendly nor user-friendly. Well-written content is the key to high rankings.
No! Beware of search engine optimization consultants who guarantee rankings, allege a special relationship with Google, or advertise the ability to priority submit to Google. That’s not how the game is played. No one has an in with Google.
Google’s mission is to provide a good experience to users searching its database by producing relevant, unbiased results. The way to good search engine rankings is through quality content that makes your site among the best for your chosen keywords.
Keywords are the words or phrases that people might use to search for a site like yours. For example, some of my own main keywords are “Florida copywriters,” “website copywriters,” and “Orlando freelance writer.”
Those words are incorporated into the text on my pages as well as in my title tags and meta-description tags, making it clear to the search engine spiders that those are the topics my website covers.
If you use Google to search for any of those terms, you’ll see that my site,www.SusanGreeneCopywriter.com, comes up on page 1, and probably is in one of the top three spots. That’s no accident, and I didn’t pay an advertising fee to get there. It’s good SEO!
That’s actually a pretty common problem, especially for the small business owner who often must find a way to compete with large companies with huge websites. An SEO can suggest some strategies for handling this problem, one of which might be to find keywords that are not so general or broad.
For example, I was once approached by the owner of a small antiques store who wanted to get a good search engine ranking for the keyword “antiques.” Well, there are literally millions of websites, many of them very large and established, competing for that word. But in talking to the owner, I learned that he specialized in Black Forest antiques, a certain kind of furniture made in Germany in the 1900s. It was a much more realistic goal to help him obtain rankings for that particular niche and to use keywords like “Black Forest antiques” and “Black Forest furniture.”
Taking it one step further, I learned that my client was one of the few antique dealers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was a realistic goal to get his site to rank for “antiques Myrtle Beach,” and eventually “antiques South Carolina.”
Organic rankings are how the search engines list sites based on their relevance to a searcher’s query. Your goal is to appear as high in the organic rankings as possible. You can’t pay for organic rankings. Your organic placement has to be earned by having quality content that has been search engine-optimized.
By contrast, sponsored results are paid ads that appear in response to a searcher’s query. While they can be part of a promotional strategy, numerous reports have shown that organic rankings get far more attention and trust from searchers than do the sponsored results.
Yes, you should. You want to know that the SEO company is using legitimate techniques. Be aware that deceptive practices might create some short-term positive results but could be extremely detrimental to your site in the long-term.
If an SEO creates misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages, “throwaway” domains, or keyword stuffing, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Once banned, it’s very difficult to get reinstated.
Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how an SEO intends to help you achieve your goals.
Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
The answers to these important questions should help you determine whether an individual selling search engine optimization services is qualified to assist you with your website.